Providing children with nutritional lunches and snacks is important as they head back to school this fall.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, optimal growth and development stems from proper nutrition, and most youth in the United States do not get the recommended fruits, vegetables and grains they need each day.

According to Jody Gatewood, Iowa State University Extension nutrition and health specialist, a meal should include at least five of the main food groups — fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein — and snacks should include two.  

“Using the MyPlate model from the United States Department of Agriculture is a great resource for parents to use,” said Gatewood.